How Bail Works in Missouri
Aug. 29, 2023
To many people, the terms “bail” and “bond” might seem similar, but they represent two different matters relating to being released from custody while awaiting a trial. Bail is a monetary sum that a judge may impose to ensure a suspected criminal will return for their court date. If someone cannot pay that sum on their own, then they can secure a bond from a bail bondsman. The bond usually costs between 10 and 20 percent of the total of the sum needed for bail.
Since 2019, following a ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court, bail has been reserved only for those individuals who pose a flight risk or harm to society. For first-time offenders, and certainly those not involved in violent crimes, non-cash bail—sometimes referred to as release on one’s own recognizance—is often the preferred option.
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime in or around St. Louis, Missouri, you need to know your rights regarding bail and release from custody. Reach out to learn more.
Attorney Anthony Bretz will provide you and your case with personalized attention and strive aggressively to protect your rights, including the right to release from jail pending trial. Bretz Legal, LLC proudly serves clients throughout St. Louis City and St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, and Franklin County.
What Is Bail?
Bail is like a get-out-of-jail card, but it comes with its own set of contingencies and conditions. For instance, if you post bail, or you are set free on your own recognizance, failing to show up for your court date can lead to further charges, and you may well land back in jail.
According to Supreme Court Rules regarding release from custody, whether by cash bail or non-cash bail, the defendant’s release shall be on these conditions:
The defendant will appear in court as required;
The defendant will submit to the orders, judgment, and sentence, and process of the court having jurisdiction over the defendant;
The defendant will not commit any new offenses;
The defendant will not talk to any victim or witness;
The defendant cannot have anyone else talk with any victim or witnesses; and,
The defendant will comply fully with any and all conditions imposed by the court in granting release.
Who Qualifies for Bail?
Bail is designed to make sure that the defendant shows up to their trial. There are, however, certain crimes affecting release and individuals who can be denied bail and often are, including:
defendants who pose a threat to the victim of their crime
defendants who are a danger to the community
defendants accused of capital offenses, such as murder when the death penalty has not been waived
defendants in danger of flight risk when no conditions of release will guarantee their appearance back in court
How Is the Amount of Bail Determined?
Judges, of course, have some measure of discretion on their own, but several factors are weighed in every release/bail decision, including:
the nature and severity of the offense that the defendant is charged with
the defendant’s ability to pay
mental health status
family ties in the community
defendant’s record of appearing at previous court proceedings
How Do Bail Bonds Work?
If you cannot afford to pay the amount of bail needed for your release, you can contact a bail bond company. These are for-profit businesses that will post your bail for you but require you to pay a nonrefundable fee, usually 10 to 20 percent of the amount being posted. The company may thereafter monitor your activities to make sure you do show up in court. If you don’t show, the bond company is on the hook for the entire sum of bail, and they then have the right to hire a bounty hunter, who will track you down and return you to custody. For this reason and many others, it is also essential that the defendant shows up to trial.
The Bail Process in Missouri
If you’re charged in a federal court, you will have a hearing before what is known as the U.S. Pretrial Services Office. In Missouri, some jails have preset, non-negotiable bail schedules for common crimes. Otherwise, bail will be decided by a judge or court officer.
There will be a bail hearing convened, probably within 48 hours of being charged. It is important to have a defense attorney with you, who can argue for release on your own recognizance, or for a lower bail amount.
Strong and Dependable Legal Assistance
If you are arrested and facing criminal charges, you need to obtain the representation of an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney today. Don’t answer questions or agree to any plea deals before being advised by your attorney of your rights and the consequences of your actions. Let your attorney do the speaking for you.
If you’re facing a criminal charge in or around St. Louis, Missouri, reach out to Bretz Law. Attorney Anthony Bretz will work with you every step of the way, from release of custody, to pretrial hearings, and to the trial itself. He will fight aggressively to protect your rights and strive to obtain the most favorable result.